Suruc explosion: At least 28 killed in Turkey border blast

The blast occurred in the garden of a cultural centre at about 09:00 GMT, the interior ministry said.

Hundreds of young people were staying there to assist in rebuilding work in the nearby Syrian town of Kobane.

Turkish officials have said initial evidence indicates it was a suicide attack by the Islamic State (IS) group.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the bombing.

Suruc houses many refugees who have fled the fighting in Kobane between IS militants and Kurdish fighters.

IS overran the town in September last year, but it was retaken by Kurdish forces in January.

The governor of Sanliurfa Province, Izzettin Kucuk, said the authorities were certain it was a suicide attack.

Responding to claims in the Turkish media that it was carried out by an 18-year-old female suicide bomber from IS, he said:

“It is a suicide attacker but is s/he 18 years old? Who is s/he? We don’t know yet.

“We will share the results of our investigation in due time,” Mr Kucuk added.

The Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) is reported to have had at least 300 members staying at the Amara Culture Centre to take part in rebuilding work in Kobane.

Graphic images of the scene immediately after the blast were tweeted by the federation.

A photo taken earlier in the day showed the group in the garden, eating.

A statement from the Turkish interior ministry said: “We call on everyone to stand together and remain calm in the face of this terrorist attack which targets the unity of our country.”

Pervin Buldan, a senior lawmaker from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP opposition party, said: “Turkish and Kurdish youth had come to cross into Kobane, and there were three or four days of activities planned.”

A journalist from Kobane who happened to be close to the site of the blast in Surac told the BBC that she heard a big explosion.

“When we went there we found a lot of dead people on the ground and a lot of injured,” Shams Shahin said.

“They were talking about two suicide [bombers] going to the cultural centre… and they bombed the place where there was a big number of civilians, children, [and] women.”

The suicide bomb attack on the Amara Cultural Centre is one of the bloodiest suicide attacks in Turkey in years.

Suruc is a small Kurdish-majority city just a 15 minute drive from the border with Kobane. Kurdish activists in Suruc played a vital role during the siege of Kobane, sending food and medicine to the YPG Kurdish fighters to bolster their supplies. Many journalists and foreign fighters who wanted to go to Kobane went to Suruc and from there were sent on.

At the time of the attack, 300 young activists were preparing to make a statement and cross the border into Kobane to help to rebuild the city.

Local Kurdish politicians in Suruc blame the Islamic State (IS) group for the attack. IS suffered a heavy loss and defeat in Kobane earlier this year. Also last month the YPG captured Tal Abyad, one of the most important IS border crossings with Turkey. Kurds believe the militant group wants to take revenge on civilian Kurds inside Turkey.

In June it carried out numerous attacks on Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Party, HDP, during the run-up to the Turkish parliamentary elections. IS is believed to have many sympathizers inside Turkey and they could carry out attacks against additional targets.

The hashtags #SuruçtaKatliamVar (There is a massacre in Suruç) and #SuruçMassacre started trending on Twitter soon after the explosion.

Enis Senerdem from the BBC’s Turkish service said Kobane had become more stable recently after months of fighting, with Turkish groups trying to reach out and help people rebuild.





 

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